Sunday as a “holy day of rest” may not be as common as it once was. Most stores are open on Sundays, and a lot of activities run on Sundays. This is understandable, since the weekend is only two days long. People often aren’t content with just Saturday as a free day, and, if they aren’t religious, holding any day holy doesn’t make much sense.
However, keeping the Sabbath day holy has benefits that using it as a free day doesn’t. Even goofing off has its costs. Have you ever noticed that you sometimes feel kind of drained and odd after a long day of “nothing but fun”? Sunday isn’t supposed to be a “day of fun,” but it’s not a “day of work” either: it’s a day of rest and worship, and, while many people have noticed that even vacations can be wearing, Sundays rejuvenate when observed properly.
How? The Mormon Church (officially The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has regular church services, although their services might be longer than some people are used to, and worship is the focus of these meetings. The main meeting is called Sacrament meeting, where the Sacrament is passed. The Sacrament is similar to the Catholic Eucharist. It is the partaking of sacred water and bread, which represents the blood and body of Christ. To partake of it, Mormons believe, is to renew the promises made with God at baptism. When we take the Sacrament properly, we can be cleansed of sin again, if we have repented.
So, one of the purposes of the Sabbath is to be cleansed of sin (and we all sin pretty constantly) and to be rejuvenated spiritually. The Sabbath is also a time for instruction. That’s another important purpose of attending Church meetings. Mormons come together to learn more about the scriptures and more about God. Studying alone is essential, but studying together is a way to learn more than we might pick up by ourselves. You’ve probably found study groups in school helpful for the same reason—what you’re terrific at and can grasp easily, someone else might not be able to, and vice versa.
What about the rest of the day? Can’t we go to church and then spend the rest of the day shopping or watching football? Well, since Mormons don’t think that anyone should have to work on Sunday, they are counselled to no go to stores or spend money on the Sabbath. Sunday as a day of rest doesn’t work if they use it to make other people ring up their items or cook their food. Mormonism also specifies that we ought to have Sunday-specific activities that bring in the Spirit of the Lord. Mormons seek for the guidance of the Spirit of God on Sunday especially—it’s a big part of what makes the day rejuvenating. While there’s nothing evil about watching football or playing video games or reading novels, they can easily distract from the purpose of the day. If you find yourself forgetting that this is Sunday and not Saturday, you should probably shift your focus.
What are Sunday-appropriate activities? Service is always appropriate—anything that puts your focus on other people is usually good: visit a sick neighbor, make cookies, spend time with your family. Sunday is a great time for the kind of quiet family outings that make no one else work (such as having a picnic in the park or visiting relatives). You can write letters or write in your journal. Mormons put a lot of value in journal writing, and it’s another difficult thing to do when life is so busy. Sunday is meant not to be busy, and when it is set aside as a holy day, you will feel more relaxed than spending the whole day at the beach.